Atlantic Boulevard in 1949. First envisioned as a wagon road between South Jacksonville and the beaches around 1890 by Eugene F. Gilbert, Atlantic Boulevard was completed in 1910. At the time, it was said to be Florida’s first modern “improved” highway and considered to be the beginning of the state’s highway system.
A view of Craig Municipal Airport in 1948. Now, Jacksonville Executive at Craig Airport (JAXEX), the airport is named in honor of Jacksonville native, Lieutenant Commander James Edwin Craig. Craig was killed in action aboard the USS Pennsylvania during the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. The airport was originally developed during World War II, as one of six area airports built dor military training. On June 15, 1946, it was the location where the United States Navy’s Blue Angels performed their first air show, flying three Gruman F6F Hellcat Fighter planes. Today JAXEX generates an annual economic impact of nearly $132 million, employing more than a thousand in the region.
The Mathews Bridge under construction in 1952. During the efforts to advance the expressway system from paper to reality, Arlington land owners opposed the concept without the inclusion of a new high level bridge connecting their area with downtown Jacksonville. In 1946, an agreement was reached and in 1950, what’s now known as the Mathews Bridge, became to first project to break ground. After it’s completion in 1953, the fortunes of Arlington immediately changed. By 1955, two years after its completion, 19,000 cars were crossing the bridge daily. By 1961, over 50,000 new residents had made Arlington their new home. With 26,500 cars crossing the Mathews daily, additional plans were underway by the Expressway Authority to feed traffic into its toll bridge. This work came in the form of a $25 million feeder road program during the 1960s. Under this program, Cesery Boulevard, Rogero Road, and Arlington Road were widened to four lanes.
The Arlington Expressway just east of the Mathews Bridge at University Boulevard around 1953. By 1955, two years after its completion, 19,000 cars were crossing the bridge daily. That same year, Town & Country Shopping Center opened adjacent to the expressway, fueling commercial development to serve Arlington’s mushrooming population. Town & Country Shopping Center at Chaseville Highway (now University Boulevard) was developed by Benjamin Setzer and anchored by Setzer’s first Pic ‘N Save store. Pic ‘N Save would go on to grow into a 40 store chain employing over 3,000 before filing for bankruptcy in 1995. During the shopping center’s best days, it had a movie theater, beauty salons, clothing and shoe stores. After Pic ‘N Save’s departure, Winn-Dixie opened a $2 million store in 1997 which has since closed. Recently acquired by JWB Real Estate Capital, the shopping center will be renamed College Park and renovated into a mixed-use development by the second quarter of 2022.
The Humphries Gold Mining Company during the 1950s. From 1944 to 1961, the company mined ancient beach sands for minerals to produce titanium just east of Arlington. Much of this land would later be developed into what is now Regency Square Mall and parts of the Jacksonville Arboretum.